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#1 Posted : 05 February 2024 15:49:21(UTC)
Rank: New forum user

I am currently reviewing my organisations emergency rescue arrangements as part of our confined space H&S standard review.  As part of the review, I attended site to get a better practical understanding of some of the confined spaces our operators enter. Whilst on site, it was raised by an operator that he needs to access a chamber to carry out routine maintenance work.  Access to the chamber is via a fixed ladder, and personal fall arrest is utilised when descending or ascending the ladder to control the work at height aspect of entry, however, the chamber itself is not classed as a confined space despite the chamber being partially enclosed, as no specified risk is present as per the confined space regs 1997 criteria and definition of a confined space.  

My biggest query relates to what rescue arrangements should be in place when an operator is in the chamber?  It is currently a two person task with a top and bottom operator, controls are in place to mitigate any fall from height when accessing or egressing, employees undergo annual medicals and there is no specified risk, so ultimately it has been deemed that the liklihood of anyone needing to be rescued due to injury or ill health is low to an acceptable level. The current rescue arrangement would be for the second man to administer first aid if required and contact emergency services as a last resort but the operators biggest concern is how do they get out of the chamber is something happens to them.

#2 Posted : 05 February 2024 17:19:25(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user

Great post and good thinking outside the box, excuse the pun.

This is a work at height exercise and complicated by the small area inside the chamber. If indeed the space is below ground, or above ground, the risk/s seem about the same.

Compare this to working at height on a MEWP inside a factory unit, no risks apart from the WAH but still needs a Rescue Plan.

Does the chamber have Wifi and mobile phone comms at all times, I suggest there is still a need for a third (emergency man) with all the necessary equipment to alert rescuers and initiate the rescue.

Despite the fact there is no harmful substances inside the chamber there may be unknown substances that are heavier than air that may have unknowingly entered the chamber.

I know the local fire and rescue service would love to hold an exercise using your chamber to test their rescue techniques and may appreciate a call inviting them to do so.  The phone call will cost nothing and a no will not offend you but if you get a Yes from them they may assist with your rescue plans and allow your people to joim them with the exercise.

peter gotch  
#3 Posted : 07 February 2024 17:21:55(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
peter gotch

Hi Andrew

Let's take a step (another pun) back.

1. How does someone use fall arrest when climbing down or up the ladder? What do they attach to and is the fall arrest dependent on a lanyard that doesn't work until someone has fallen some distance?

2. What happens if the ladder fails?

So, should you be considering ditching the ladder as the means of access and using a tripod instead - which is the default for most UK water companies? See Occasional Guidance Note: The Classification & Management of Confined Space Entries (2019) | Water UK

Then supposing the person at the bottom collapses, one option would be to lift them back out of the chamber, as they could still be attached to the tripod.

NOTE - I am NOT saying that this is the right solution for your work - depends on what is "reasonably practicable".

thanks 1 user thanked peter gotch for this useful post.
HSSnail on 19/02/2024(UTC)
#4 Posted : 17 February 2024 00:02:57(UTC)
Rank: Forum user

Think, what if there's a fire?

#5 Posted : 19 February 2024 08:16:40(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user

As an inspector i faced a similar situation to the one Peter describes. An engineer slipped in a large boiler room and twisted his ankle. While not a confined space the room was partly below ground level, access via a vertical fixed ladder. He sat for 2 hours before the pain subsided enough for him to "hop" up the ladder. No one had missed him. Not a bad company, good compliance record in past, but a couple of improvement notices for lone worker and rescue procedures.

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